Local woman overjoyed after nightmare escape from Tripoli

2011-03-01 00:00

BUSISIWE Kheswa has been reunited with her family after a harrowing ride to Tripoli airport and a flight of more than 36 hours from the war-torn Libyan capital

Eleven days ago, Pietermaritzburg resident Kheswa was flying home from Dubai with her sister Hlengiwe via Tripoli. When they landed in Tripoli they found themselves stranded in a country whose citizens were revolting against the dictatorship of Muammar Gaddafi.

Kheswa told The Witness yesterday that getting to Tripoli airport was a nightmare, with soldiers assaulting people at random.

“I was more than  happy on Friday when we were informed that we were coming home.

“However, that joy was short-lived when we were stopped at three roadblocks. There were tanks everywhere from the hotel to the airport. A Namibian guy who was with us was roughed up by the soldiers at one of the roadblocks for not having his passport. All our passports were taken on our arrival at the airport and the man didn’t have the emergency passport we were issued with as his country has no embassy in Libya. It was heartbreaking to see the poor chap being roughed up like that, but that’s what others had to go through.”

She said soldiers confiscated cellphones as a way of preventing video clips being leaked to the media and outside the country.

After three hours’ waiting they left Tripoli for Cairo at 8 pm on Friday and landed at 11 pm to catch a flight to Johannesburg.

A man had to be helped on to the plane after he had been shot by the soldiers. It is not clear how serious his injuries were, Kheswa said, but he could not walk.

“On arrival in Cairo we heard that there was no flight to Johannesburg and that we had to catch one to Istanbul, Turkey.

“We arrived there at 11.30 pm on Saturday and left at midnight for Johannesburg and arrived after 9.30 am on Sunday.

“This was quite an experience, one that drains you physically and emotionally.

“I cannot thank The Witness enough because phone calls from the paper and our families kept us going.

“This whole situation reminded me of scenes during the political instability in SA.

“What’s worse in Libya is that soldiers were given orders to use brutal force against the demonstrators,” she said.

“I’m relieved to be back home although I have some flashbacks of what happened in that country.

“Tomorrow (Tuesday) I’m having a session with a psychiatrist because I need to be assisted to go through this period and experience as I have difficulties to sleep at night,” she said.

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